The European Scientific Diving Panel

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Scientific Diving

The purpose of Scientific Diving (SD) is the undertaking and delivery of underwater science. SD supports professional research and education as well as the protection, conservation and monitoring of the natural and cultural environment. SD is a highly-productive, cost-effective research tool. It is neither recreational nor commercial diving. It provides the technical capability to be an “intelligent monitoring system”, greatly extending the possibilities of ship supported/based monitoring techniques. Scientific diving exists in a health and safety framework that involves certified scientific divers, diving officers, scientific project leaders, heads of laboratories, administrators and legislators. The most of SD throughout Europe is done in connection with marine research institutes and stations.

The European Scientific Diving Panel

The European Scientific Diving Panel (ESDP) is the European platform for the advancement of underwater scientific excellence and to promote and provide a practical support framework for scientific diving at a European scale. The ESDP was initiated in 2008 as a European Marine Board Panel (until April 2017) and currently is receiving organizational support from the European network of Marine Stations (MARS).
At present delegates of 17 countries are participating in the panel, chaired by Jean-Pierre Féral (IMBE, FR).


The ESDP focuses on:
1. Operational and safety issues related to scientific diving (capacity building – standards, guides and documents)
2. Highlighting the usefulness of Scientific Diving as a feasible, cost effective and safe tool for research (dissemination activities)
3. Encouraging international mobility in the European scientific diving community


1. Capacity building
ESDP is a focused and technical panel which delivers concrete outputs in the form of European scientific diving standards and consultation documents, which are currently available for download on the following topics (registration required):
– Common Practices and EU Competency levels
– Delivery of science through diving
– Scientific Diving from large Research vessels
Scientific Diving requirements facilitating safe mobility of scientific divers within Europe – lead J.-P. Féral, FR
– The benefit and use of rebreathers in Scientific Diving – lead A. Norro, BE
ESDP is currently working on:
– Scientific Diving medical examinations in Europe, USA and New Zealand – lead M. Sayer, UK

2. Dissemination of results obtained by scientific diving
A recent survey carried out at a European scale) demonstrated that from 2011-2015 over 60 articles published in journals with ISI Impact Factor of 5 or higher (covering disciplines like Ecology, Climate Change/Ocean Acidification, Science-based Archaeology, Geochemistry, Polar Biology, Conservation Biology and Genomics) have been based on indispensable scientific diving activities.
Such initiative will be repeated in the near future.

News and Events (visit ESDP website)

  • The 29th ESDP meeting will be held on the 25th October 2022 by videoconference
  • The 5th Joint International German-Swedish-Finnish Scientific Diving Training Course 2022 will be organized by the Biological Station Helgoland, the Kristineberg Marine Research Station, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research and the Tvärminne Zoological Station in October and November 2022
  • The two first FSDA Scientific diving (occupational level) courses will be organized at Tvärminne Zoological Station in April and August 2022
  • The 28th ESDP meeting took place by videoconference on 20th May 2022
  • The 7th European Conference on Scientific Diving (ECSD7) will be held in Roscoff, France, 25 – 29th April 2022. ‘Scientific Diving in a changing underwater world: findings and foresights’. Due to the sanitary crisis, the organising and scientific committees decided to postpone the 7th edition of the Conference to April 2023
  • 16 – 17th November 2021, ESDP invited to the World Congress of Marine Stations (WCMS 2021) proposed to integrate occupational scientific diving into the global organisation plan for marine stations.
  • The 27th ESDP meeting took place by video conference on 29th October 2021.
  • The 26th ESDP meeting took place by video conference on 7th May 2021.
  • The 6th European Conference on Scientific Diving – ECSD scheduled in 2020 had been postponed. Because of ongoing restrictions, the meeting was held as a virtual conference on 21-22th April 2021 (5 contributions by ESDP members).
  • 13-14th April 2021, ESDP, invited to the Scientific Diver ISO Standard kick-off meeting organised by the ISO Diving Standards Group, TC 228 tourism and related services / WG1, the ESDP has defended the position that such standardization can only be done within an occupational framework, a view also defended by the American Academy of Underwater Science (AAUS).
  • A flash meeting on the subject of ISO standardisation of ESD and (A)ESD (Advanced) European Scientific Diver standards, via videoconference, was scheduled on 20th January 2021.
  • December 2020, members of the ESDP were invited as panellists in the framework of the Online Workshop – Capacity building and harmonization of scientific diving in Europe [ScienceDIVER : Cross-sectoral skills for the blue economy market (Project id : 863674 – EMFF Blue Economy 2018 – Blue Careers],3 contributions by members of the ESDP :
    webinar 01, 2nd December 2020 : Acknowledgment of Scientific Divers. (Piotr Balazy),
    – webinar 02, 9th December 2020: Legal Framework for Scientific Diving. (Jean-Pierre Féral and Massimo Ponti).
  • The 25th ESDP meeting was scheduled in Riga (Latvia). However, as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, it took place by videoconference on the 22nd October 2020.
  • The 24th ESDP meeting took place by videoconference on the 27th February 2020.
  • The 23rd ESDP meeting was held at the Museum national d’Histoire naturelle de Paris, France on the 25th October 2019, from 10:00 to 16:30.
  • For the 22nd ESDP meeting, delegates have been participating via videoconference on the 13th May 2019, 10:00 to 16:00.
  • The 5th International German-Swedish-Finish European Scientific Diving (ESD) Training Course 2019 has been held in two parts from April 1st-12th in Helgoland (Germany) and from April 22nd – May 10 th in Kristineberg, Fiskebäckskil (Sweden).
  • 21st ESDP meeting, 26th November 2018, Heraklion, Crete [organized back to back with the MARSnetwork directors meeting]. On April 28th, a presentation of ESDP was given by J.-P. Féral, followed by a discussion on how to strengthen the links between MARS and the ESDP.
  • 20th ESDP meeting , 4th May 2018, Stockholm, Sweden [ESDP became a panel of the MARSnetwork].

For more information: see the ESDP website

For more information please contact ESDP.

Monitoring of coralligenous assemblages – NW Mediterranean. © F. Zuberer

SD in extreme environments – Austral Ocean, Terre Adélie © D. Dellile

Sampling a geothermal spring © G. Caramanna

Inspection and monitoring to ensure the good functioning of a lander – North Sea. © M. Sayer